About the Author
L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the bestselling author of over forty novels, including the Imager Portfolio series and the Saga of Recluce series, as well as several other novels in the science fiction genre. He has also published technical studies and articles, columns, poetry, and a number of science fiction stories.
Kirby Heyborne is an accomplished actor, musician, and comedian who has received a number of AudioFile Earphones Awards for his audiobook narrations. He has had starring roles in over a dozen features and many short films. Kirby is also a cofounder and director of the Los Angeles-based improv comedy group The Society.
Read an Excerpt
The Order War
By Modesitt, L. E.
Tor FantasyCopyright © 1996 Modesitt, L. E.
All right reserved.
Justen watched from the smooth stones of the oldest pier in Nylan as the Shierra pulled away and out into the channel. The black iron plate of the deckhouse and single turret glistened in the morning sunlight, and the four-span gun pointed forward like a black staff aimed at chaos.
A thin line of white water flowed aft from the newest warship of the Mighty Ten as she eased out into the Gulf of Candar between the twin breakwaters that dated back to the building of Nylan itself.
The young man in engineers' black brushed a hand through his short and light brown hair before glancing at the three students. "Watch closely, with just your eyes, after she clears the breakwater."
"Watch what?" asked the thin, redheaded boy.
"The ship, silly," answered the stocky girl.
"Why?" questioned Norah, a petite and big-eyed blonde girl.
"Watch," repeated Justen.
As heat pulsed from the Shierra's funnel, visible only as a wavering of the greenish-blue sky to the west, white streaks seemed to flow back from the bow as the black warship built up speed. Suddenly, both wake and ship vanished, leaving only the heat lines across the western sky.
"What happened?" asked Daskin, the redhead, a hand raised to scratch his thick, curly hair.
"The Brother raised his shields, of course, just like we're going to be taught to do." The stocky girl, Jyll, did not quite snort her disgust,but flipped her hair away from Daskin.
Justen stepped back to avoid swallowing long, black, loose tresses. He did not contradict her statement about being taught shielding, but it would be years before any of these three were ready--at least from what he could tell, but that, thankfully, was not his decision.
"Let's go." He turned uphill, and the three students followed, Norah trailing, her eyes still turning seaward toward the heat lines that were the only trace of the Shierra. A light breeze, bearing a remnant of chill from the later winter, ruffled his black overtunic.
As they passed the armory, a lanky, red-haired woman in green emerged.
"Krytella!" Justen waved.
"Justen. I'll walk up to the classroom building, if you're headed that way." Krytella smiled. "Do you know if Gunnar's anywhere around?"
"No. He's up at Land's End, studying the Founders' records of the Change." Justen tried to keep his voice level. Gunnar, always Gunnar, as if his older brother were the great Creslin himself.
"Are there any? Real records, I mean?"
"I suppose there must be. Dorrin certainly left records." Justen stopped outside of the long and low black stone building that almost seemed part of the grassy hillside.
"But he was an engineer."
"He also wrote The Basis of Order. Most of it, anyway." Justen gestured at the three students. "You can get something from the fruit table in the dining hall. Then we'll meet in the corner room."
"Thank you, Magister Justen," the three chorused.
"I'm not a magister, just a junior engineer of sorts," Justen observed, but the three had already trooped off.
"How can you be happy offering beginning order-instruction to spoiled kids?" asked Krytella.
"Why not? Someone has to, and--" Justen stopped, realizing that once again Krytella had compared him, unfavorably, to his older brother. He forced a grin and continued. "--and I'd better catch up with them before they eat all the fruit."
"Tell Gunnar I need to talk to him."
"I will, but you'll likely see him before I do."
"Have fun with your students."
The three had not eaten all the dried fruit, having left at least half of it. In passing the snack table, Justen grabbed several dried pearapple sections and stuffed them in his mouth. He chewed and swallowed quickly. Then he walked down the stairs to the belowground corridor that bisected the sunken indoor garden. The garden separated the dining wing from the classrooms.
The three looked up from their cushions as he closed the door.
"Take out your Basis of Order. Let's take a look at the third section of the first part, page fifty--the part about the concentration of order." Justen waited as they paged through the books that were still too stiff, as if the only time they read was when Justen insisted. "Would you read it, Norah?"
The wide-eyed blonde cleared her throat. "...a staff, or any other object, may be infused with order. If the Balance is maintained, concentrating such order must result in a greater amount of chaos somewhere else. Therefore, the greater the effort to concentrate order within material objects, the greater the amount of free chaos within the world."
"What does that mean, Daskin?"
"I don't know, Magister."
"All right. You read the words, the same words."
"The same words?"
"...a staff, or any other object..." Daskin repeated the words already read aloud by Norah.
"Now, what does it mean?"
Daskin sighed. "I guess it's something about why the engineers don't put order into everything they build."
Justen nodded at Jyll.
"Is that why there are only ten of the black iron ships?" she asked.
"How much order goes into building a ship like the Shierra?" Justen probed.
"Lots, or you wouldn't have asked," Norah said, grinning.
"How much iron would it take to build a hundred ships?"
"But iron's stronger, isn't it?" asked Daskin.
"You can grow more oaks and firs, but you can't grow more iron. Once you've taken iron out of the earth, it's used. Once you remove that iron from the high hills...then what?"
All three looked blankly at the floor.
"What holds Recluce together?"
"Order," the three muttered.
"What does iron do?"
"Fine. What happens if we take all the iron out of the high hills? Why do you think we try to buy as much iron as we can from Hamor, or even from Lydiar?"
"Oh...That keeps more order in Recluce?"
"Right." Justen forced a smile. "Let's look at the question of limits. Where will you find that, Jyll?"
The stocky girl shrugged.
Justen took a deep breath instead of yelling. He waited before saying, "Look toward the end of the opening chapters. All of you. Tell me when you find something."
Justen walked from one corner of the room to the other. Had he and Gunnar been so slow?
The three students continued to page slowly through The Basis of Order.
Finally, Norah raised a hand. "Is this it?" She cleared her throat, then began to read slowly: "If order or chaos be without limits, then common sense would indicate that each should have triumphed when the great ones of each discipline have arisen. Yet neither has so triumphed, despite men and women of power, intelligence, and ambition. Therefore, the scope of both order and chaos is in fact limited, and the belief in the balance of forces demonstrated..."
Justen nodded. "What does it mean?"
"I'm not sure."
The young engineer looked out the window, across the ridgeline and northward to the blackstone walls that separated Nylan from the rest of Recluce. Then he looked downhill and out across the Eastern Ocean. Maybe Krytella was correct. Someone had to teach, but was he the right one?
Copyright 1995 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
Excerpted from The Order War by Modesitt, L. E. Copyright © 1996 by Modesitt, L. E.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
An intriguing fantasy in a fascinating world, with characters that catch you up. Modesitt presents an interesting study of Chaos versus Order, Good versus Evil...and the attractions each of them has for all of us.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unfortunately the other person who completed a review of this book is clueless. This story is written in the same present tense as all the other Recluce stories and is a fantastic read.
This is the 4th book in published order, the way Modesitt likes people to read this series. Chronologically, it is very directly linked to the first book & answers a LOT of questions, even though it happens about 200 years earlier. The hero of the "Magic of Recluse" (2d book) is Lerris & he meets a Gray wizard named Justen. This book tells us just who Justin is & a lot about what Lerris saw.One of the neatest things that Modesitt does is garble history slightly in the first book. It is quite recognizable in the 4th, but now we can see how the story & names were changed over 2 centuries. It adds a dash of realism into the fantasy.We also learn a lot more about the Great Forest which is nice to know for several other novels in the series & imperative for the last of the series, chronologically.
Good, but the first volume is the best.
I like Modesitt. I hooked into this series with the Magic Engineer, which my brother, an engineer, had laying around. The abstraction on which the fantasy series is based is accessable to my tastes.This fantasy world has magic. The magic system is based on the idea of order and chaos. Gender roles are reversed, with female being dominant in the culture, and male being subordinate. Modesitt also does other reverses, such as the color black being associated with good, and white with evil. At times the culture reversals Modesitt does are thought provoking and entertaining.The main characters tend to eventually have a moment of wisdom, where they realize that their fate is impacted by the forces of chaos and destruction. This particular book carried that on, with the actions of the main characters viewable as side effects of the natural magical flows of that world. I found the forest of the druids to be ungripping, and the whole druid part and romance leaving me unaffected. Something seemed off there. The druid forest developed the idea of absolute "justice" and 'grey magic" and balance. However, the druid land and the druid people seemed to not match the grey idea vividly to me. I thought he could have better pulled it into the rest of the plot, showing more how the mechanism of order/chaos balance is like the absolute justice of the forest. The forest 'magic' just seemed unintegrated, though I knew the druid forest trial was the pivot of the book. The trial was similar to Shea activating the Sword of Truth in the Sword of Shannara.Once Modesitt got back to his usual mode, the book rolled along nicely. An example of the abstraction in the book is the depiction of a radioactive element through the order/chaos viewpoint of the main character, which was interesting.Modesitt tends to add in occasional descriptions of random unplot-related character actions, which lends a sense of realism to the character scenes. He takes the time to occasionally describe the actions of a random character in the book as observed by a main character, which also adds to the involved realism. His books are deeply compassionate.The final scene in this book was a whopper as well. It didn't flow as well as other of Modesitt's books, which is why, along with the druid part, I only gave it four stars. Maybe I need reminding too much, but I kept looking for a marker in the flow of action all through the final climax to pull it more into the ideas of "grey magic" and balance as done in the forest. Maybe I'd drunk too much. It was vividly shown.I did get the tears rolling at the death of a side character in the climax. Modesitt can grip the emotions. I read the book through quick.Modesitt is good reading, wish I had more on hand tonight.
Get guns and weapons here and talk
A unique series...a very good read.
Unlike his other books, Modesitt has chosen to use the past tense in this particular installment of the Recluce series. This unfortunately makes reading the book an excruciatingly painful experience. I actually dropped the book like a hot ingot after seventy pages of mentally changing the story to the present tense. I am about to move to the next book, but I would plead with the author never to attempt something this 'creative' again.